Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Pattern: Christening Cloud

The Christening Cloud is the second pattern I submitted to an upcoming crochet 101 One-Skein Wonders book.  As mentioned in my previous post, it will be months before I hear whether it got accepted or not, so in the meantime, I'm offering the pattern for sale here in my shop.

Apparently, Herbie the (sage green) Bunny pictured above, likes it.  (He is very supportive.)

Again, being limited to only one skein meant some of the usual yarns I use for a baby blanket were not available.  So, what yarn has enough yardage for a baby blanket, when crochet uses a third again as much yarn as knitting?

The answer:  lace weight!

"Do I really want to crochet with lace weight yarn?" I asked myself.

"No," I answered myself.  "It is too thin and not as satisfyingly cushy as thicker yarns."

"Do I want to submit something else to this book?" I asked myself further.

"Ye-e-es," was my hesitant reply.

I thought a lacy blanket for a special occasion like a christening might work.  The bad news?  My stash had no lace weight yarn in it.  The good news?  I got to shop!

I found some incredibly soft Madeline Tosh Lace;  if I start petting the yarn, it's probably going home with me.

I almost went with a cream color, which would give the project a traditional look.  It was quite pretty, but then I saw this slightly variegated grey yarn--I believe the name of it was "Silver Fox"--and I just couldn't resist.  Visions of newly baptized babies floating joyfully on the clouds came into my head.

Winding 900+ yards of yarn was no picnic, but it was worth it.

I fiddled around with different size hooks and stitches until I came up with something that I liked.  It's a fairly easy pattern, with variations on a shell stitch.  You crochet the center first, then add the ruffle in rounds.

I found I didn't mind working with the lace weight after all.  When the yarn is this wonderful, I have no complaints!


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Pattern: Zucchini Cocoon

The Zucchini Cocoon is one of the crochet projects I designed to submit to a 101 One-Skein Wonders book.  It's for swaddling a newborn baby, in case that wasn't obvious.  Little Bear seems to like it, but then, he likes practically everything I make.  He's very supportive.

It will be months before I hear whether the pattern got in or not, and since the publishers are fine with submissions that are already published and/or for sale elsewhere, I've decided to go ahead and put it up for sale here in my Etsy shop.

Being limited to only one skein of yarn was a great challenge for a devoted blanket maker like me.  I had to go small or go home!  So I chose chunky yarn for this little number.

One ball of James C. Brett Marble Chunky will do it; I even had enough left over to make a matching hat and some plant-like curlicues, with about a half a yard left over!

But you can substitute any chunky yarn you like.  You'll need 341 yards.


If you like this pattern, you might also like the River's Edge Ripple blanket.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Color Ride Cowl

This cowl from Mountain Colors is so easy and quick, I knit the shop sample in an evening.  The kit comes in different colors, by the way.

For all you beginner knitters out there:  If you buy the kit (at Roxanne's, for example), don't forget to wind those mini-skeins into balls before you knit.  I draped them, one at a time, over the arm of my chair and my knee.  It only took a minute to wind each one by hand; no need for a swift or ball winder.

The pattern materials list calls for dpns as well as a #11, 16" circular needle, but you don't need the dpns, it's just a typo of sorts.

I could have knitted this even faster, but I started with a #10.5, since I usually have to go down a size.  In this case, the #11 worked better, due to the bumpy, almost bouclé texture of the yarn.  So I had to frog my first attempt with the smaller needles; my gauge was off, and this was supposed to fit an adult human, not a child or large doll.

Be sure to cast off loosely--pull that extra bump of yarn through the loop, and the cowl will fit nicely over your head!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


When I first saw some hand appliqué wall hangings in a local quilt shop, I admired them greatly but had no desire to make one.  I was under the impression that I hated hand sewing.

Then I took a tile quilt workshop, and discovered that needle-turn appliqué is kind of addicting.  Having the right needle and thread for the job really helps.  (A thin milliners #11 needle, and thin enough thread to get through the eye of that needle, in case you were wondering.  And a really good needle threader.)

The swoop of that needle, that turns the edge under so beautifully (with a little practice), is mesmerizing.  And I love seeing the shapes take shape, as it were.

So when a two-color quilt class was offered again recently, I signed up, and lured my friends Deb and Elisa to join me.

I snagged one of several patterns I coveted, fresh from Quilt Ventura (or you can go to Pacific Rim Quilts, which publishes the patterns), and I spent a lot of time fussing over which fabric to use, as usual.  I actually used fabric from my stash!  Will wonders never cease?

You can see a little of the pattern I traced onto my top fabric, on the far left.  Then came pinning and basting the top fabric to the background fabric.

Then began the cutting, just snipping carefully with scissors, to reveal the magical design.

A little here:

A little more:

Ooh, pretty!

We three adventurous souls had a sewing day outside of class and worked on our appliqué.

Elisa's doing turtles.

Debbie is doing sunflowers.

I envy her perfect petals!  I can but aspire!

But I am improving, and having fun along the way, and that's all I ask.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Yes, It Rained!

Everyone out here has been doing a rain dance, at least internally, for months.   Prayers, wishes, hopes, dreams.  Finally the cosmos cooperated.

Here are the clouds saying, "So long for now."  Rumor has it they will be back next week.  Continue the dance!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sometimes a Sock

Sometimes you have to make a sock.  Not because you want to, but because you have to.  The sock-obsessed knitters among us will understand this on a deep and cosmic level.

The rest of us, who have experimented with socks and discovered we don't really care for making them or wearing the finished product (I know, it's hard to believe), sometimes have to make them for shop samples.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the socks;  there are so many beautiful patterns.  I just don't want to make them.

I do like sock yarn, though, and feel it is perfect for shawls!  And bakti!  (The plural of baktus.)

Luckily, I only had to make the one baby sock.  Finished items have a tendency to walk away from the shop somehow, and how much easier for an itty-bitty sock: imagine if there were a pair!  They would be irresistible to the kleptomaniacs and downright thieves.

I do like the result, even though the project required frogging and starting over six times with different size needles until I got the gauge I wanted and understood why they wanted you to start the 2 x 2 rib pattern with just one purl stitch.

The pattern is from a booklet by Kreativ called "My First Regia," for Schachenmayr Regia sock yarn, which comes in tiny adorable skeins of bright, charming colors.  The booklet includes a baby hat pattern, a pattern for booties, and one for the baby socks.

There are general instructions in three different sections, a table for how many stitches to cast on, how to arrange heel stitches, length of foot and so forth, for different sizes, in another section, and step-by-step instructions in two other sections, separated by the general instructions and the table, strangely enough, and written in a way that I find remarkably obtuse.  (Who, me, complain about how a pattern is written?  No, never!)

But once you figure out where the actual directions are, as opposed to the overview of the techniques, it comes together easily.

I turn in the sock today, and it's on to the next project!